The National Hajj Commission of Nigeria, NAHCON, says a claim by a tour operator to offer Nigerian Muslims a cheaper package for the 2017 Hajj is false.
HASHA Travel and Tour, one of NAHCON’s approved tour operators, is offering N1.25 million fare with $500 stipend. The fare however does not include feeding.
Baba Mohammed, chairman of the HASHA Travel and Tour, said pilgrims also have an option of collecting $300 to go for medical screening at Saudi German hospital.
“The fare is exactly N1.250 million and a pilgrim has an option of collecting $300 and go for medical screening at Saudi German at a cost of $200 instead of the Hospital rate of $250,” he said.
“Secondly, the package is just for two weeks, this brings down the cost of hotel unlike the states that will be there for about four weeks.
“Thirdly, the cost of flight tickets is about $1,000 which is lower than the states’ airfare. Again, no feeding except in Mina and Arafat amongst other things that made the cost to be lower than that of NAHCON,” he added.
But, Abdullahi Mukhtar, chairman of NAHCON, who spoke on BBC Hausa programme, Ra’ayi Riga Ne, said such claim could not be true.
“We had a meeting with the company that advertised N1.25 million package. The company has no contract document with Ethiopian Airline. The company has no contract agreement in Makkah or Madinah,” he said.
Mr. Mukhtar said the $1,000 Ethiopian Airline ticket fare as claimed by the tour company was not also realistic.
He said online purchase of Ethiopian Airline ticket to Saudi Arabia from July ending to August is placed at $1,700.
“I spoke with Ethiopian airline, they said they have not offered to anybody the 2017 Hajj fare ticket,” he said.
He said 98% of Hajj fare is determined in US dollars, hence it contributed to the approved N1.5 million fare by the commission which include airline ticket, accommodation component in Madinah and Makkah, Muna, Arafat and Muzdhalifa. Other components include transport, feeding and Basic Travel Allowance.
Mr. Mukhtar said Airline ticket for each intending pilgrim from Northern States is $1,600, “with a slight difference of about $50 less for intending pilgrims from Borno and Adamawa states.”
The ticket for those from the entire Southern part of the country is $1,700.
He added that, $933 is for accommodation per intending pilgrim in Makkah, while $430 is charged for Madinah.
A senator, Ahmed Misau, who also featured on the programme, called on the Federal Government to look into the issue of high exchange rate.
“This 2017 Hajj fare must be reduced in order to alleviate the suffering of intending pilgrims and to afford them the opportunity to fulfil one of the five pillars of Islam,” he said.